|Posted by reneesherkness on May 17, 2016 at 1:10 PM||comments (0)|
FREE YOGA RELAXATION EXERCISE FOR KIDS!!! AND ADULTS ALSO!!
Below is a great relaxation exercise to begin or end your child/children's day in your classes.. "Floating on a cloud" Relaxation Exercise
See more relaxation exercises, stories to practice yoga with and breathing exercises in the book:
"Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga"
Available on amazon.com
See website..http://reneesherkness.webs.com/ for more free lesson plan suggestions, book information and educational articles..
"Floating on a cloud Relaxation Exercise"
Lay down on your mat. Place your head down to keep your neck in a straight line with your spine. Relax your face, behind your eyes, your mouth. Keeping your legs open slightly and your feet falling to your side. Let your whole body feel like it is melting and begin to feel very relaxed.
Now imagine a cloud floating down to the ground toward you. Without moving a muscle imagine yourself climbing onto the cloud and floating up to the sky. This is a very full fluffy cloud and you feel very cozy safe and comfortable on it like you are resting on a big overstuffed pillow. Deep breath in and slowly out
Look at all the colors around you as you float among many other clouds of different shapes and sizes. Notice how light your body feels as you float and enjoy the ride, feeling peaceful and happy. Deep breath in and slowly out
Now lay still and relax as you watch your cloud begin to move down slowly through the sky towards the earth. Once it meets the earth, imagine yourself climbing off carefully. Imagine your body on the ground, you are still lying still but you feel heavier now. Take a deep breath in and out slowly and stretch your arms and legs. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your face. Rub your hands together. Wash your face.
Bend your knees into your chest and roll your whole body to the side that feels most comfortable for you. Roll up slowly to a sitting position with legs crossed into easy pose Take a deep breath let it out. Rotate your head to one side, stop. Now other side, Stop. Hands together NAMASTE
|Posted by reneesherkness on April 8, 2016 at 6:00 PM||comments (0)|
A FREE LESSON PLAN FOR SPRING/SUMMER ON OCEAN CONSERVATION FOR YOUR CLASSROOM
Note: illustrations below are taken from the book: "Winston The Whale And The Blanket of Darkness"
Summer is upon us, contrary to the weather outside! Why not begin preparing a lesson with a summer theme and include the book: "WINSTON THE WHALE AND THE BLANKET OF DARKNESS" available on amazon.com or discounted in larger quantities through my website..reneesherkness.webs.com/
Here is a sample lesson plan to get you started! See below...
Enjoy! HAVE FUN!
*Today’s book: "WINSTON THE WHALE AND THE BLANKET OF DARKNESS"
Story about a Humpback whale and his friend Lei-le and the things that happen to them and their home the ocean because of pollution. Ask and explain "What is pollution"?
• Read storybook: "Winston The Whale And The Blanket of Darkness"
Put on listening ears
• Remind children of the oil spill in book
Show this by doing demonstration with oil and feathers to show how oil can hurt birds from swimming.. Mention how oil can also burn sea creature’s skin.
• So what do we do?
• Song on ocean
Play recording of Keep the Ocean Clean or other song on ocean conservation
• Discussion on ways to keep our ocean clean.. Ask kids?
Get involved! Participate in beach cleanups if you live in a coastal area. Go to the beach!
See where you can volunteer to clean up your local lakes, rivers and/or oceans.
Adopt a beach groups where children and grown-ups can get together to help clean up their local beaches.
*Go over websites and suggestions that are listed in the back of the book: Winston The Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness" on conservation ideas and places to contact..
*Talk about Recycling..Show how plastic bag and soda can container hurt animals in ocean.. Recycle rather then put in ocean. Speaking of Recycling what are 4 Rs?
*Recycle, reduce, reuse, and reinvent. These ideas, along with recycling, are very important when it comes to humans looking after the planet.
*Recycle . Make old things into new or different products.
Ask the children what type of things do we recycle? Bottles, paper, newspaper, plastic containers, aluminum cans etc.
*Reduce: Not use as much! Look out for packaging that is recycled. Buy things from places that use fewer containers or let you use your own recycled ones.
*Reuse: Use over again! This is the continued use of a product in its original form. For example, instead of throwing out your old microwave when you get a new one, you could sell it at a garage sale or trade it in. Try and use containers, plastic bags and newspapers as many times as possible.
*Reinvent: This is when you make new, useful things from recyclable objects. For example, using old plastic containers as lunch boxes, making crafts from old boxes and containers, making jewelry boxes from old containers, making original toys and dolls out of unwanted objects or even making costumes from recycled material. Junk isn't always something messy like a banana peel, it can include perfectly useable, clean objects that just no longer serve their original function.
• Coloring handout for ocean recycling
* Art follow up making an art craft with recycled materials
|Posted by reneesherkness on February 6, 2016 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
Funeral arrangements made, songs discussed, flowers ordered, memories shared, pictures picked out to put on poster boards… All the things you do, half aware, half hoping these things could convey the love you felt, all the emotions exposed when someone close to you dies...
January 31, 2016 my mom passed away...
The first thing I felt when my mom passed was a punch to my stomach… But the first thought when they told me my mom died was “Mom, I won’t be able to call you anymore!”…
You see my Mom had become my “go to person”
Growing up I depended on mom to take care of me, to take care of things, to be there.. When I was little like most mom she took care of all my physical needs.. Washed me, dressed me, kept me safe…the invisible mother/ daughter string to my life had been tied.. As I grew up mom continued to keep that string connected but in different ways.. She drove me to school every day, shed volunteered at my school, she watched every pyramid I made at all my cheerleading games (and I’m sure I worried her every time that I wouldn’t fall)..She picked out prom dresses with me, listened to stories of boys I fell in love with and dried my tears and took me out for hot fudge sundaes when I told her stories of boys I stopped falling in love with or stopped loving me... She sat with my girlfriends and I and I always felt she truly enjoyed hearing our silly pranks and even added a few ideas of her own of some ways to pull those pranks off. In college she sat by my bed when I struggled with big life decisions and she shared in my anxiety on my first job interview...
After I married mom’s string took on many forms. I wanted soo hard to be my own person, have my own home, do things my way... become the wife and mother I wanted to be. .. Mom’s string loosened during those times... But then id need advice and Id “call my mom” and ask her how to make a certain recipe or if I should call the doctor for my daughter or just ask “Mom how’d you raise two kids at once! Those were the times the string tightened and grew taut...
And so that’s how it went... Through marriages, childbirth, divorce, deaths, good times, challenging times... the string loosened and the string tightened... but the string never broke...
As we both grew older the string travelled both ways. .Just as I shared things with her, my mom began to share her joys and her pain with me...
When my mom passed the doctor said: “You and your mom must have been close?” and I answered, yes I think we were... He then said: “you two must have really gotten along”? I said “Hell no” we fought too! But even when we disagreed our string never broke...
I remember after the stroke how I would visit her and tell her about my day...Even if I wasn’t sure she understood… Still she was my “go to person” and the string held strong...
And now mom is gone... I can’t call her anymore or visit her and tell her my day...
After mom passed a priest said something to me that stuck with me...I said: “Father I won’t be able to call my mom any more now”… and he looked at me and said: “You know what she’s telling me right now?”.. .Don’t worry honey, just listen from your heart because I’ll be the one calling you..
So the string holds strong. I’ll always love you Mom and you’ll always be my “go to person”
|Posted by reneesherkness on February 24, 2015 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
As I research my new book: "Our Pop-Pop has Wings", a book on the loss of a grandparent for publication, I am more and more mindful of the impact grief has on our young and the unique needs a child is in need of when they experience the loss of a grandparent..
I look forward to completing the book to share this information with others..It is my hope and wish that this book not only remains a legacy for my husband and a reminder to my Grandchildren of the love they experienced from their “Big-Pop” but it also helps ease the pain and spark a memory to the many other children whose grandparents have passed..
It is not only a book close to my heart after the loss of my husband but also a book I feel is needed to help others who are struggling with the heavy emotions of grief within their families and looking for ways to help cope during this difficult time.
|Posted by reneesherkness on January 29, 2015 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
Just attended a writer's workshop in Pa. by fellow author Janet Mason..Inspiring, and sparked a light in me to begin publication of other manuscrips I've written..
Including a very personal book for children about the loss of a Grandparent. Also a fantasy story for children on Care,Cooperation,and working as a team among creatures who are very different! And Yes even a Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga,Part Two book!
Thank you Janet! I am so grateful for the encouragement and inspiration! Excited to begin the journey!
|Posted by reneesherkness on April 3, 2014 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
DO WE STILL NEED EARTH DAY ON THE CALENDAR?
By *Renee Sherkness
When I completed researching my last book Winston the Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness, about a Humpback Whale, Winston and the perils he faces due to the increasing pollution to our oceans and beaches, I sat at my computer and thought two things; One, Wow, the world needs us more then we think she does and Two, Wow we need “Her” more then we think we do!!
After teaching children for over 18 years and now a mother and grandmother I was first inspired to write my series of books on nature for children for the purpose of sparking an interest in families to help to create a healthier “world” and a healthier “us” for our future. Having a background in biology and teaching health to children and raising my own daughter in this world, I knew the earth’s environment was an important topic that should be focused on by all of us for our future. In writing my books I hadn’t expected to stumble on the vast research out there that supported the tremendous impact nature and our planets health or lack of health were playing in so many areas in ours and our children’s lives every day!
As I wrote in an article for HEM: “Go Outside and Play” many studies have and are being conducted on the benefits for children from engaging in activities in the outside environment. One of the largest study to be take very seriously discusses the ”Nature Deficit Disorder” and refers to a hypothesis by author Richard Louv in his book, “Last Child in The Woods”. NDD’s premise states that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of physical and behavioral disorders.
Wanting there to be the existence of a “clean outdoors” for our children to play in, we are thankfully all becoming more and more aware of the challenges our environment is facing and becoming more and more mindful that it’s resources are finite and will not last forever at the rate we are going.
I was pleasantly surprised while researching my books the growing number of families who were embracing the “eco-friendly” movement and had embodied this way of thinking. So many families were creating “family moments” and “time together” while embracing and helping our environment and making this a daily part of their day.
With the celebration of Earth Day coming up April 22nd I began to ponder the idea that celebrating our Earth was a mindset that was being embraced not just on Earth Day in April but every day by so many families.. Hooray, The times they were a changing.. Then do we still need one specific day like Earth Day on the calendar?
We participate in so many activities 24/7 with our children quite naturally, especially as home school parents, and are constantly reminded of the need to “go green” in our news and on TV every day. So is signifying a day to celebrate Earth Day an obsolete idea? I started to think about this..
So while I pondered a need for Earth Day, it is “still” a celebration on the calendar and just around the corner, I thought I’d refresh everyone’s mind to the wonderful ways our earth is being celebrated every day of the year!
Here are some of the many ways I discovered families were conserving and connecting with our environment and getting outside together on a daily basis as a typical routine life style choice, Earth Day or Not.. These activities were inexpensive, ingenious, very simple and seemed easy to incorporate into our daily life and quite frankly also seemed like a lot of fun!! Many ideas I included in the back of my children’s books from my “Nurturing Nature Series” with websites for families to explore and I have also tried a few out with my grandchildren, now 5 and 8 years old as well and we had a blast.
• One of the ideas my Grandchildren put into practice had a great deal of fun with this summer was collecting rain water every time it rained this summer. By doing so we not only saved on my water bill but conserved on a natural resource, water. We agreed on a container to use and place one on our deck outside. Then it was one of our responsibilities to remember to place it outside each time it rained. This responsibility with excitement was usually remembered by one of my grandchildren! After collecting the rainwater we used the water for all types of stuff that doesn’t require sparkling clean water like watering house plants or vegetables in the garden.
• When I lived in the country a day trip to our local farmer for inexpensive produce was a fun day my family and I often spent together and a way we supported local businesses while also helping our environment. Local farmers markets tend to avoid toxic pesticides and offer organic food helping decrease harmful chemicals in our environment. After the days trip in the country a fun together time was spent creating a frugal and healthy meal together to be shared. Another idea that splintered from this activity was to grow some of our own vegetables and fruit to use for a meal together. Children who help create the food they are eating are more likely to enjoy that food so much more! And we did!
Other activities families are adding to their daily life include:
• Many of us are realizing the benefits of exercise in our daily routines. Many families are making this activity a good idea for our bodies and our environment. Families are making routine family outings to participate in outdoor activities such as walking, running, hiking and spending the day at the beach or the park. Hiking through the woods is a great way to understand nature while experiencing fun exercise in the process.Traillink.com is a great site to check out a trail in your local area.
• Instead of sitting at the beach or park many are taking it upon themselves to go for walks and clean up at a beach or wooded area to give kids a better understanding of the world around them and how to keep our world clean. In addition as mentioned above studies show exposing children to nature on a regular basis not only create healthier adults, but will help your child to grow to have a healthy respect for our planet.
• Volunteering in your community to clean up. Volunteering is one of the greatest ways to stay connected as a family and to help our environment and I am happy to say is on the rise in our society. Your children will learn about giving back to the community by this example while spending quality time together. In the back of my books, “The Day Mother Nature Decided To Paint Her House”, about season change and benefits of trees for all of us, and “Winston The Whale and The Blanket Of Darkness” about ocean conservation, I list a number of ways and websites for families to go to help protect our environment and share quality time together. These websites, to name a few include places families can go to adopt a beach or where to join a beach cleanup group, adopting a park, planting a tree together or how to join a save a tree or rainforest group in your community. Many families are contacting their local waste management office to gather information on recycling programs in your area to help clean up our environment together. In Orlando, Florida Disney World has a program called Give a Day, Get a Day where if you and your family or friends volunteer to do a project they are sponsoring you will get a free day at any of the Magic Kingdom parks. This is a great volunteering opportunity and saves significant dollars for a family vacation together.
• Eco –Friendly tours are wonderful ways families are discovering a better understanding of our world and also give families a chance to spend time with sea animals and wildlife in their habitats. Swimming with the dolphins, turtles and tropical fish in Hawaii or getting a better understanding of natural wildlife in a wooded environmental tour in your local community can both be a great way for kids to have one on one time with animals and learn more about them from the people who run these types of tours.
• As mentioned above, exercise is on the rise for all of us. More and more are promoting exercise for young and old in today’s society. Many of you are getting that old bike out of the garage! Bicycles foster our health and our environments as well! Giving up your car for a family outing by bike can be a cost friendly and environmentally friendly activity.
• Remember the old drive-in days where we huddled with pillows and blankets in the back of our parent’s car to watch a movie. Those days gave way to the expensive big screen theaters we drive to today. Well now there is a new more efficient less costly and eco-friendly trend going on. Instead of a car ride to the movies, families are preventing air pollution and conserving energy by grabbing some blankets and pillows and air popcorn and renting a movie to watch at home.
• Camping out is a great way for children to get to know the environment and nature around them when they spend time in the outdoors and is becoming increasingly popular for a family vacation in today’s economy. Most places you can camp at are free to use, including your own backyard, and some places charge a minimal fee to set up camp in places like State Parks.
• The simplistic ride on a canoe or row boat out on a lake to enjoy a fun trip with your children teaches them all about creatures that live in the water.
• Environmentally friendly and organic materials are everywhere today and more and more of us are switching to them every day. These eco-friendly products are being created with materials free of lead, PVC and toxic Phthalates which are toxic to us and our planet.
• Families are finding it an everyday occurrence to make energy-efficient decisions with appliances, lighting, heating and cooling equipment, electronics, and office equipment in their home. Over their lifetime, products in your home that are certified energy efficient can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 130,000 pounds and save you an average of $11,000 on energy bills not to mention help Mother Earth’s resources to last little longer.
• I remember teaching health to 5 year old and explaining the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! Without revealing my age too much, these five year olds have grown up and are now teaching their children about the 3Rs and using these methods in their home. These simple methods of disposal helps conserve energy and reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Families every day participate in recycling program in your community, recycling newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods. Also, composting your food and yard waste isn’t uncommon also reducing the amount of garbage that you send to landfills.
• I’m always encouraging my grandchildren to take pictures of everything they see around them or to draw pictures of what they see while traveling outdoors. This helps to create a family time and also remind us of the beautiful world we live in while creating your own family scrapbook or picture albums to share and enjoy later.
So back to my initial question; With so many simple activities we can incorporate into our lives every day of the year to help our environment do we really need to celebrate Earth Day every year on one set day on the calendar? Maybe not; Most of you reading this article have thankfully already embraced an eco-friendly mindset in your home and participate in many of these ideas listed in this article every day. But maybe YES, and I tend to believe the latter, “We Need Earth Day”! Just like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or Grandparents Day, it’s such a nice idea to honor and recognize someone or something we cherish so much and need so much in our lives! So Happy Earth Day dear Mother Earth and thank you so much for being there!
*Renee Sherkness is the author of The Nurturing Nature Series of Children’s books which include:
“The Day Mother Nature Decided To Paint Her House”
“Winston The Whale and The Blanket Of Darkness”
“Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga”
|Posted by reneesherkness on March 20, 2014 at 11:50 AM||comments (0)|
With all the transitions and changes Ive had to make in the last two years it's been hard to really grasp where home is for me..
I thought I found home with my first husband in the home we lived in. And for a time after the birth of my daughter It had felt like home.. After my divorce many years ago I sold the home we lived in. I felt Id never find home again.. Yet my daughter and I made a home and I felt home again. It felt right!
After she moved out to make her way in the world,to find her own "home", I moved again and remarried.. I was searching for home once more..
My husband Joe and I moved a few times and we even lost our beautiful home we made on our horse property in the country when his business closed. By then I started to ponder what home really meant.. I began to realize that the concept of "home" didnt mean a concrete building one lived in..I used to say where ever my husband Joe and I laid our heads felt like home for me..He was my home!
I never thought Id find home again after he passed away..I told my daughter once while feeling scared and lost after my husband passed away and losing our home he and I lived in "that I guess Im like a turtle now my home is on my back"! I I felt like I would never feel "home" again.. .But I just read something that made me feel right with my world again! Where I am today is where I should be; And today I am thankful, and today I am blessed..
I read: A man who had little money was asked a hypothetical question: “If you could live anywhere in the world—and if money was no object—where would you live?”
Without hesitating even for a second, he replied, “I live in my heart. So it really doesn’t matter where my body lives. If I am happy inside, then I live in Paradise, no matter where my residence is.”
Of course he was right—happiness is an inside job. This story reminded me today of something I already knew, but had forgotten. If you can’t find happiness inside yourself, you’ll never find it in the outside world, no matter where you move. Wherever you go, there you are. You take yourself with you.Home is the feeling within you not the building outside of you!
So another "wake up shake" for me to think about today!! I am once again reminded that feeling at home ,no matter where I lived never really depended on where I was but always on what was in my heart..So, with all the wonderful memories I have collected on my journey still held close to my heart and all the joyful moments that are beginning to trickle in to my heart again, and new memories I am creating with people I love, I can finally say I am beginning to find my home again.And no matter where life's journey takes me, my home can never be taken away! Today, I am "home"..
|Posted by reneesherkness on January 15, 2014 at 10:25 AM||comments (2)|
It's been over a year and a half since my husband, Joe's passing. While I lost my best friend and husband on May 8th 2012, my daughter also lost a wonderful step dad and my grandchildren lost their amazing Big Pop! I wrote this poem after my husband's death as a way to ease the pain and scar of Joe's passing for my daughter and young grandchildren..if one can ever ease the pain and scars that remain after a tragic death...After much needed healing of my own I am finally able to share it...
OUR POP-POP HAS WINGS
Our Pop- Pop to us was as big as a tree.
Next to him we stood about up to his knee.
Our Pop- Pop was so strong and so tall.
We’d shout to him “Big Pop” and he’d answer our call.
With Nana and Big Pop we’d have so much fun.
We were always so sad when our visits were done.
Nana would love to read and to sing.
She did Yoga with us, that was her thing.
But Big Pop was special beyond all compare!
We know we’d have fun when Big Pop was there!
He’d take us for walks with his dogs in the park.
And give us neat flashlights to use in the dark.
He even had horses we’d get on and ride.
We never were scared with Big Pop by our side.
He’d play dress up and cars and pretend shopping too!
With Big Pop we always had something fun and exciting to do!
But one day we were told Big Pop went away.
When we asked Nana why?
With tears in her eyes,
She had this to say…
She told us God needed someone to help the angels have fun.
So God called on Big Pop to get the job done.
So our Big Pop’s in Heaven with angel wings we are sure.
Making all the other angels laugh with a roar.
And while we miss Big Pop so much our eyes sting.
We know he’s with God and the angels with his own set of wings!
|Posted by reneesherkness on October 16, 2013 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Go Outside And Play!!!
Remember when we were children and we often would hear our parents yell on a daily basis: “Go outside and play”!! We would understand the message our parents were sending that “we were under foot” and more than likely comply. As a parent myself I as I am sure you might have also been known to echo these words from time to time to your children for these same reasons!! Little did we or our parents know for that matter that we were doing more than getting our children (who we do love and enjoy with us!) out of our way for a short time! We and our parents, according to more and more research being conducted in the past few years were most likely adding years to ours and our children’s life!!
While I was doing research for my “Nurturing Nature Collection” of books for children, I stumbled upon some fascinating studies being done. These hypotheses resonated with my own beliefs that a child’s awareness of the nature around us has a huge impact on our youth and is the way to ensure a healthy child and a healthy future for all of us.
Nature Deficit Disorder refers to a hypothesis by author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in The Woods” and is being looked at as ringing true! NDD’s premise states that human beings especially children are spending less time outdoors resulting in a wide range of physical and behavioral disorders.
Louv claims that causes for this phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of the media and TV screen. Research has also shown a further contrast between the declining number of National Park visits in the United States and increasing consumption of electronic media by children.
In reading I found that Richard Louv spent ten years traveling around the USA speaking to parents and children, in both rural and urban areas, about their experiences in nature. He suggests in his book that: “Sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally "scared children straight out of the woods and fields," while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors "safe" regimented sports over imaginative play”.
According to Louv there are many causes for Nature Deficit Disorder and his research list them as follows:
• Parents are keeping children indoors in order to keep them safe from danger. Richard Louv believes we may be protecting children to such an extent that it has become a problem and disrupts the child's ability to connect to nature. The parent’s growing fear of "stranger danger" that is heavily fueled by the media keeps children indoors and on the computer (which may lead to “stranger danger”!) rather than outdoors exploring. Louv believes this may be the leading cause in Nature Deficit Disorder, as parents have a large amount of control and influence in their children's lives.
• Loss of natural surroundings in a child's neighborhood and city. Many parks and nature preserves have restricted access and "do not walk off the trail" signs. Environmentalists and educators add to the restriction telling children "look don't touch". While they are protecting the natural environment Louv questions the cost of that protection on our children's relationship with nature.
• Increased draw to spend more time inside. With the advent of the computer, video games and television children have more and more reasons to stay inside - the average American child spends 44 hours a week with electronic media.
So what are the effects of the hypothesis of this disorder on our children according to Louv? Here are some of the effects sited from his book I found fascinating:
• Children tend to develop a lack of respect for their immediate natural surroundings. Louv says the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder on our children will be an even bigger problem in the future. In his book he sites: "An increasing pace in the last three decades, approximately, of a rapid disengagement between children and direct experiences in nature… has profound implications, not only for the health of future generations but for the health of the Earth itself. The effects from Nature Deficit Disorder could lead to the first generation being at risk of having a shorter lifespan then their parents.”
• Attention disorders and depression may develop. "It's a problem because kids who don't get nature-time seem more prone to anxiety, depression and attention-deficit problems." Louv suggests that going outside and being in the quiet and calm can help greatly. According to a University of Illinois study, interaction with nature has proven to reduce symptoms of ADD in children. According to research, "Overall, our findings indicate that exposure to ordinary natural settings in the course of common after-school and weekend activities may be widely effective in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children. See Attention Restorative Theory below.
• Following the development of ADD and mood disorders, lower grades in school also seem to be related to NDD. Louv claims that "studies of students in California and nationwide show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of experiential education produce significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math".Childhood obesity has become a growing problem. About 9 million children (ages 6–19) are overweight or obese. The Institute of Medicine claims that over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has more than doubled for adolescents and more than tripled for children aged 6–11. Other problems arising from obesity include asthma, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
• In an interview on Public School Insight, Louv stated some positive effects of treating Nature Deficit Disorder, "everything from a positive effect on the attention span to stress reduction to creativity, cognitive development, and their sense of wonder and connection to the earth."
After further research on this subject I found others who agreed with Louv
No Child Left Inside Coalition supports Louv’s hypothesis and works to get children outside, engaged and actively learning about nature to address the above mentioned problems.
Among some studies recently published in major journals, one by Andea Faber Taylor and Francis Kuo show a correlation between better concentration for children with ADHD and outside walks in the park.
"Attention Restoration Theory” which was developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the 1980s supports the positive effects nature can have on behavior, both in short term restoration of one's abilities, and the long term ability to cope with stress and adversity. In their book: The experience of nature: A psychological perspective, Attention Restoration Theory or ART asserts that people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature that are calming such as rustling leaves, bubbling brooks or even a cloud floating in the sky.
So what can we do if we believe In Nature Deficit Disorder?
According to Lucy Rector Filppu “Does Your Child Have Nature Deficit Disorder?”; George Ambrose "Easy Activities for Getting Kids Outdoors" here are some suggestions they write:
• Understand What Drives Creativity
Studies show that nature fosters creativity and calms children struggling with information overload. Water, trees, bushes, flowers, woods, and streams are the best kind of toys because unlike action figures or collectables they can be anything.
• Allow for Controlled Risk
In a media-saturated culture where parents hear about a new child abduction almost every day, how do we let our kids wander freely outside? Try going outside with your kids while also letting them experience unencumbered time to roam. Don’t forget to weigh the risk of what happens to a child’s imagination and inner life if we keep her indoors because we are afraid.
• Focus on Nature-Oriented activities
Focus on unstructured time in the environment, where children are free to use all their senses and play as they wish.
• Schedule Outdoor Time
In a parenting culture chock-full of driving from one structured activity to another, it’s time to stop and literally smell the roses. If that means writing “gone outside” on the family calendar each week or (ideally) each day, then get that pen out! There are lots of great activities for getting outside, even in your own backyard.
In an interview in 2005 on National Public Radio, Mr. Louv suggests we not assume we all need to visit Yosemite if we want to combat NDD. He suggests there is nature in our own back yard. One of his ideas he offers is that we leave a part of our yard rough, not manicured. Small children enjoy turning over rocks, finding bugs and exploring.
Fishing ,horse back riding and hiking can be a shared outing for a family to explore the outdoors. Some of my favorite childhood experiences were Sunday walks in the woods behind our home with my Dad exploring the nature around us. Trips to the park to collect leaves or flowers with my grandchildren and create colorful centerpieces with them is a simple activity but one that is asked for often. Reading about the nature around you with your child and looking up different treasures you have collected on your nature walks can be a fun filled activity and educational as well.
Even teenagers, with their “busy social schedules” can be enticed to spend more time outside.
Ann Regn writes in “Nature Activities for Middle School Girls”: How do I get my teenager off the phone or IM and outside?
• Make nature the backdrop, the set for the social scene.
• Vary the activities to make being outside new and interesting.
• Let your teen plan and take ownership of some of the family and peer activities outdoors.
• Have your teen go with a good friend to a nature-based summer camp.
• Teen girls love to keep journals. Use journaling to help reflect on walks outdoors.
• Plan some backyard campouts for your teen and his or her friends.
I suggest the impact of less nature in our lives to our children and our future as only a hypothesis to meander over and help you to draw your own conclusion.. I myself while not wanting to even think of another “disorder” to worry about for our youth tend to agree that this subject is worth exploring further.. In a society where words like “beaver” and “dandelion” are being replaced in our dictionaries with words like “blog” and “MP3 player” and “texting”, I think it is time we take notice.. As noted wildlife artist and conservationist Robert Bateman observed, “If you can’t name things, how can you love them? And if you don’t love them, then you’re not going to care a hoot about protecting them or voting for issues that would protect them." If nothing else I hope this article illustrates the urgency to connect children directly to the natural world, and our ending goal to create a healthier “us” and a healthier “world”
Author and educator Renee Sherkness offers her children’s books on nature and the environment on her website: www.nurturingnaturecollection.com
Books include: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga
The Day Mother Nature Decided To Paint Her House
Winston The Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness
|Posted by reneesherkness on October 15, 2013 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
NANA CAN WE PLAY YOGA?
By Renee Sherkness
YOGA IS FUN AND HEALTHY TOO
Looking for a great way to share a healthy moment with your child/ grandchild or children? Yoga done with stories can add fun exercise into their children’s day, reduce stress, and include activities that are engaging for both children and the whole family. When my grandchildren came to visit and exclaimed, “Nana, can we ‘PLAY’ yoga?” I knew I had succeeded in the goals I set for practicing yoga through stories with children. I was able to offer the benefits of yoga to children at the same time they were having fun and thinking they were at play.. Sort of like most parents do when they hide the healthy vegetables under a favorite food a child loves on their plate. Yoga hidden in a story is like the broccoli we puree into our mashed potatoes for our kids, (that’s the way I got my daughter to eat broccoli when she was small, with green mashed potatoes!) They get healthy and don’t even know you’re helping to make it happen…
WHAT DO THE STUDIES ON YOGA SAY
I’ve been practicing yoga all my life as an adult. Yoga with children found me about four years ago when I had begun working with children’s programs again after 18 years of teaching in the school systems. Being reluctant to return to the school system once more I was looking for a way to work with children and families in a more personal way and spark and interest in healthy lifestyles in the homes... I had always practiced yoga so I understood the big impact yoga was for me throughout my life in staying healthy and focused and balanced during difficult times in my life. I was aware of the proven fact that yoga reduced the excessive hormones released into our bodies from chronic stress I wanted to explore how yoga impacted children. Having raised my daughter and now maneuvering in this world with grandchildren, I understood how important it was to instill healthy habits and values in our young to ensure healthy values and habits for them as adults. I began researching the benefits of yoga for children and was amazed at what I discovered!
BENEFITS OF YOGA ARE AMAZING
Children who practiced yoga were more relaxed, focused, concentrated better, and had improved sleeping patterns, along with a better sense of well-being than prior to practicing yoga. Respect for others and ourselves; having compassion, confidence and high self-esteem; and greater academic achievement are benefits that are often attained by children who practice yoga. Many studies have shown children who practice yoga often develop mental and physical strength, balance, flexibility and healthier life habits. Children’s attitudes may improve, our immune system may strengthen, and abilities, such as teamwork and leadership skills, in many instances are increased. (Of course, individual results can vary.)
Children with special needs also could achieve benefits from yoga. Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Speech and Language Impairment and Downs Syndrome were experiencing the benefits of yoga. What a great way to share a bonding moment, have fun, and get healthy all at the same time!!
Here is a one of the four stories I include in my book: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga for you and your children to try at home Always consult a physician before trying any exercise program including yoga.
You can use the story in my book two ways.. One simply read the story or two (which I hope you do being a yoga instructor). Try the exercises first alone and then do some yoga with your kids while you read the story! Have fun. Either way, try a relaxation exercise from my book. This can help melt away any stress from a hectic day.
Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga now available on amazon.com in U.S, Europe and UK
FROM MY BOOK: STORIES THAT COME ALIVE THROUGH YOGA
ANDY THE ANT
I used this story in my lesson entitled, A BUG’S WORLD. For each lesson, I would try to convey a special message or intention to my students, which they could think about while doing their yoga practice. In this lesson, the message was: respect everyone. We all matter, no matter how big or how small....
1) Begin with Andy the Ant pose (basic Flat-Back Cow pose). Tell your students to get on the floor on all fours. Let them try to keep their arms straight, with relaxed shoulders, raised heads, and flat backs. Breathe.
2) Child pose: Have your kids begin in a kneeling position.
Spread the knees as wide as the mat, keeping the big toes touching.
Bring the belly to rest between the thighs, and have your children place their foreheads on the floor.
Now there are two possible arm variations:
Either stretch the arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring the arms back alongside the thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do whichever feels more comfortable to the children. Breathe.
3) Hero pose: Start in a kneeling position.
Tell your kids to keep their knees together as they separate their feet, bringing their bottoms down to the floor between their feet. Do not overstretch. Breathe. They should not feel any pain.
Remind them not to sit on their feet, but between them. Make sure their feet stay straight, turning neither inward nor outward.
4) Easy pose: Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position. I often tell my students what their teachers in school instruct them to do while in circle—cross/cross applesauce or pretzel position. Bring one heel in towards the groin. The other foot may rest on the floor in front of them, or they may bring it into their lap, if there is no pain.
Try to have them root their seat down, as their spine grows tall. Tell them to roll their shoulders back. The crown of their heads should rise towards the ceiling. Breathe.
5) Grass pose (Candle pose) Have your kids lay on their backs. Tell them to use the abdominal muscles. Then ask them to lift their legs over their heads and hold them straight up in the air with their toes pointed like a blade of grass. Their weight is on their shoulders, putting little pressure on the neck. Have them keep their hands on their lower back for safety. Breathe.
6) Plow pose: Have your kids lie on their backs, and tell them they will be using the abdominal muscles. Ask them to lift their legs over their heads, trying to touch their toes to the floor behind their heads. Once they have completed many practices, they can interlace their fingers behind their back and straighten their arms. But, for the first few times, have them keep their hands on their lower backs for safety. Roll the shoulders under, one at a time. The hips should be aligned over the shoulders. Roll out of the pose slowly, one vertebra at a time, keeping the legs straight and feet together while inching your way back down. Breathe.
7) Carl, the Cricket pose: Kids can lie down onto their backs. Have them touch the soles of their feet and palms of their hands together and rub. Breathe.
Bonnie the Butterfly pose: Have your students sit on their bottoms, legs flexed in a triangle shape in front of them, with the soles of their feet touching each other and hands on their ankles. Breathe. Have them move their legs up and down, in a "flapping butterfly" motion. Encourage them to float and flap slowly and deliberately, while being silent like a butterfly.
9) Flash the Firefly pose (variation): Come into a wide squat.
With the palms of their hands flat on the floor, have the children begin to move their hands inside of their feet, and then, around the outside of their feet. Breathe.
10) Runner’s pose: Tell your kids to come into a lunge, as if starting a race on their toes with the front knee bent and the back leg straight. The front knee should be just over the ankle. Their hands will come down to the floor on each side of the front foot. Have them straighten the spine and look forward. Breathe. To do both sides of the runners pose, keep your hands on the floor, jump back, and switch legs.
11) Mountain pose: Have the children stand straight and tall with their big toes touching.
Lift up all your toes and let them fan out, and then drop them down creating a wide, solid base. You can separate your heels slightly, if your ankles are knocking together uncomfortably.
Have them try to bring their weight evenly onto all four corners of both feet. Look straight ahead. Hands can rest at their sides or can be high above their heads with their palms touching. Breathe.
You may feel as if you’re just standing there, but bringing the body into alignment is hard work, which utilizes many core muscles. As beginners, children can feel like a strong, solid mountain. Breathe.
12) Warrior I pose (both sides): From Mountain pose, have the kids bend their right knees directly over their right ankles, so that the calf and thigh form a right angle.
Draw the right hip back and the left hip forward, so that the hips are squared to the front. The back leg stays straight. Bring the arms out to the side and up over the head. Have their palms touch, and tell them to gaze up toward the thumbs, making a slight backbend.
Slide the shoulder blades down the back. Breathe.
Repeat on the left side.
13) Swan Dive into Rag Doll pose: From Mountain pose, have each child bend from the hip and swoop down like a swan with arms extended. Hang down like a rag doll while trying to touch your hands onto the floor. Breathe.
14) Buzz Breath: A basic chanting/breathing exercise, replacing “om” with a buzz. Breathe in through the nose for four to five seconds. Exhale through the mouth for the same length of time (if they can), and make a buzzing sound.
ONE OF THE MANY STORIES FROM MY BOOK STORIES THAT COME ALIVE THROUGH YOGA
ANDY THE ANT
There once was a very tiny, but very energetic, ant named Andy (Begin in Flat Back Cow pose/Andy, the Ant pose) who lived on an anthill. (Child pose)
One day he was gathering his food on his back when he heard a loud noise. (Hero pose to Easy pose)
He went into the tall grass to investigate. (Candle/Grass pose)
There he saw a large-looking machine known as a lawn mower. (Plow pose) This curious-looking machine seemed to be cutting all of the grass. (Candle/Grass pose)
Andy, the ant grew scared that he would be chopped up, so he called upon his insect pals. (Easy pose)
He called his friend Carl, the Cricket. (Carl, the Cricket pose)
He called his friend Bonnie, the Butterfly. (Bonnie the Butterfly pose)
And Bugsby, the Bee (Easy Pose, then Buzz Breath.) Breathe
Lastly, he called his friend Flash, the Firefly (Flash the Firefly pose)
Together they all headed towards the lawn mower, either flying or running. (Mountain pose to Runner’s pose, then back to Mountain pose to Runner’s pose for other side)
They swarmed around the grass-eating machine and the warrior who was pushing it. (Mountain pose to Warrior I pose)
When the warrior saw all the insects, he became scared and ran away. (Mountain pose to Warrior I pose, other side)
Andy, the ant’s friends had saved him, and he returned to his anthill to live another day. (Mountain pose to Swan Dive into Rag Doll to Flat- Back Ant to Child Pose to Hero Pose)
I hope this article has helped in spreading the word to families about the fun you can have practicing yoga together and the benefits of yoga for all of us especially our children. Be aware though I do this “ever so quietly” and have hidden the benefits of yoga under the fun games and stories I offer in my book and workshops on yoga for children! (Just like the dreaded vegetable!!)
My wish for you is to have your children come to you and say: “Can we ‘PLAY’ yoga today?” I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy yoga with your kids and share a fun and healthy moments with your child/children! I begin and end my classes with the word: “NAMASTE”. Loosely translated from Sanskrit to English: “The Heart in me Honors the Heart in You.” So I end this article with the words: “NAMASTE” to you and your family.
FOR MORE STORIES AND FUN ILLUSTRATIONS ON YOGA CHECK OUT MY BOOK: STORIES THAT COME ALIVE THROUGH YOGA on AMAZON.COM IN UNITED STATES, EUROPE AND UNITED KINGDOM
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Renee Sherkness, Biology Major, Early Childhood Education Degree has taught for over 18 years. Books include: Stories That Come Alive Through Yoga, The Day Mother Nature Decided To Paint Her House and Winston The Whale And The Blanket Of Darkness. Her stories entertaining, educational and informative help awaken a child’s interest in nature and the connection shared with our environment. Her goal in her “story writing” is to inspire in the reader an interest in achieving a healthier “world” and a healthier “us.” Renee, Widow, Mother, Grandmother, lives with her two dogs and the loving memories of her late husband Joe. Here she continues her writing, conducting workshops, presenting yoga to children and spending time with her grandchildren. www.nurturingnaturecollection.com